MORRISTOWN, NJ - Sitting behind a high definition screen while seeing wondrous pictures of the world is something we have all grown accustomed to doing at home or the movies. People flock to the movies to watch IMAX presentations of space, the pyramids and the mysteries of the deep blue sea. Now developers from Google Expeditions Pioneer Program have made it possible for students in school to take these virtual field trips right in the classroom.
Introducing the Google Expeditions app that was piloted in Morristown High School, Teachers can lead classes on virtual field trips through the use of a tablet and a smartphone enhanced pair of glasses. The cardboard cases hold Android smartphones, the visual gateway, to places like the Congo, Galapagos Islands, Venice, Mt. Rushmore and of course the Moon. Furthermore, teachers can control the visual content through a tablet and conduct lessons with the aid of some spectacular infusion of technology.
The application is still in its development stage, and the developers from Google Expeditions are feverishly working on data gathering from its future users. As teachers would lead the discussion and manage the virtual field trips, teachable moments would arise and students were engaged in the lecture visually while receiving instruction.
As Marietta Scorsune, a World Language teacher was speaking to her students about the history behind Il D’Uomo, they were smiling and craning their necks to see the beauty of this famous Italian landmark in the palm of their hands.
The program was brought to the Morristown High School with the help of Brian Young, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction for Science and STEM, and Erica Hartman, District Supervisor of Technology Integration. Google Expeditions is being tested in various districts nationwide such as California, New York, and Texas. Both Hartman and Young were instrumental in applying to Google Expeditions after learning about it through various media sources. As a result, Morristown’s application was accepted and they set up 24 different field trip experiences for over 600 students.
At the end each session the students were asked for feedback and some of the suggestions included expanding the technology to include audio, and improvement on some resolution of certain images. Teachers were excited at the prospect of having this technology at their disposal in the near future as another tool to use in their craft.
Mr. Santana, an Art teacher said that, “A picture is worth a thousand words…” and he further explained that he was excited to use the images from these field trips to provide historical background and inspiration for various art projects. Student will have the benefit of a referent at their fingertips without having to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to visit Italy.
The potential for this program is something that most students and educators in Morristown High School were extremely excited about. The app will be free in about a month’s time and the future of the program is still being formed.